Avi Luzon is not the devil he is often depicted to be.
It is unlikely the
new Israel national team training complex at Shefayim would have been built
without his support and the fact Israel will host the European Under-21
Championships in the summer of 2013 is undoubtedly the result of his political
However, Luzon need not bother returning to his office at
National Stadium in Ramat Gan at the start of next week once he finishes
celebrating Israel’s independence with his family.
He might as well just
mail in his letter of resignation.
Luzon should only shoulder part of the
blame for the violent brawls that have marred Israeli soccer in recent weeks,
but as long as he lingers around the local game, building a brighter future
Israeli soccer needs to be revolutionized and that
cannot happen while Luzon is in charge.
He had five years as Israel
Football Association chairman to better the local game, but he has now reached a
sad situation where almost no one believes a single word which comes out of his
I hate to be comparing Luzon to former Egyptian president Hosni
Mubarak, but Luzon’s suggestion to bring about cosmetic changes while making
panic-driven decisions is awfully reminiscent of Mubarak in his final days in
He has become so out of touch that after stunningly postponing the
weekend’s matches in the top two divisions, Luzon believed he could brush aside
his responsibility for matters spiraling out of control by naming a new
president to the IFA High Court (something which was going to be done by June
anyway) and announcing that he plans to set up an obscure committee.
tried to spread the blame by revealing he had asked Jacob Shahar to head the new
committee, but the Maccabi Haifa owner had no intention of tarnishing his
reputation and quickly turned him down.
However, we should hardly be
surprised with Luzon’s conduct. It’s not as if he ever truly grasped his duty as
The fact the former Maccabi Petah Tikva boss fails to
understand until this day why it was wrong to name his nephew Guy Luzon as the
coach of the under-21 national team is a testament to how clueless he has always
been regarding his obligations as chairman.
In his speech to the nation
on Sunday night, Luzon said he understands there is an ethical standard he must
meet as chairman, even though in his eyes he has done no wrong.
on to explain that the fact that he publically expresses his allegiance to
Maccabi Petah Tikva from the stands and even attends its training sessions to
boost player morale is completely acceptable behavior.
He pointed to the
president of the German Bundesliga, Reinhard Rauball, who was seen wearing a
scarf of his beloved club Borussia Dortmund during its championship celebrations
However, despite having days to prepare the most important
speech of his life, Luzon got it all wrong by comparing himself to Rauball
rather than his true counterpart in German soccer, FA chairman, Wolfgang
Rauball is the president of Dortmund, also holding the
symbolic role of being Bundesliga president.
Clearly it is only natural
for him to be cheering the club he still presides over.
Niersbach, on the
other hand, wouldn’t be caught dead showing his loyalty to any club,
understanding that would turn him into a joke and blemish any future decision he
would make as DFB chief.
Luzon either doesn’t understand what he is doing
wrong or he simply doesn’t give a damn.
Either option is just as
Luzon can’t make the needed changes to Israeli soccer because he is
clearly at least part of the problem.
It is the owners of the league’s
clubs who need to unite forces and break away from the IFA to set up an
independent body to run Israel’s two professional leagues, as is the case in
most European countries.
The spotlight pointed at Israeli soccer
following the recent on-field fights finally raises some hope that a reform is
If Luzon has no intention of quitting and allowing someone else
to rebuild the local game, than the clubs need to take the initiative.
least 25 representatives from the 32 teams in the Premier League and the
National League are expected to attend a first meeting to discuss the matter
Ashdod SC’s Jacky Ben-Zaken is one of the new generation of
owners fed up with being pawns at the hands of the primeval politically run
sporting associations of Hapoel and Maccabi, which also control the IFA and
determine its chairman.
He has threatened that clubs will refuse to open
next season if nothing is done.
That seems unlikely to happen.
the fact that someone like Ben-Zaken feels free to make such threats shows he no
longer believes he has anything to lose, which is a requisite to any
Luzon has lost any little credibility he once had to run
If he refuses to relinquish power, the power needs to be
taken out of his hands.
Israeli soccer deserves better.
deserve to dream of a brighter future.
The time for change has arrived. A
failure to seize the opportunity could lead to generations of
Follow Allon on Twitter: @AllonSinai